The Truth Behind Non-Latin Athletics Participation

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Alice Bolandhemat On the first day of Freshman year, I walked in thinking everyone would be as nervous as I was. However, I quickly saw that most kids had at least ten acquaintances whose names and faces they already knew. Sure, that didn’t mean they were best friends, but those students were familiar with one another. It took me a few days to learn that those kids had met each other from preseason of their fall sport. And while Latin offers many sports, it’s also filled with athletes whose sport of choice isn’t offered at school. As I do a sport not affiliated with Latin, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet many Latin students prior to the Freshman Orientation. Even though I soon made friends at school, I envied those who went to practice every day and formed a bond with fellow freshman as well as upperclassmen and coaches. I wanted to wear a Roman’s jersey and go to tournaments with my friends on weekends. I’ve never found myself to be a particularly athletic person, and believe me, I’ve tried nearly every sport. I wasn’t cut out to be a runner, a soccer player or a dancer; I was made to be a coxswain, the person in charge of navigating and steering the boat. In 7th grade, when I found crew, I finally felt I’d found my place. Like me, Sophomore Helen Hu participates in a sport outside of Latin. As gymnast, Helen trains all year long for nearly 30 hours a week. Helen said, “Because gymnastics takes up so much of my time outside of school, it limits my ability to participate in before/after school activities. This means I tend to have less time and opportunities to hang out and bond with friends, more importantly find new friends that I don’t normally have class with.” When second semester of this school year rolled around, and it was announced that ISP’s will not be counted for gym credits beginning next year, I was devastated. I contemplated the point of dedicating 6 days of my week to a sport that would still force me to take gym. I knew going into high school that crew wasn’t offered at Latin, but what I didn’t know was that I’d most likely be missing my junior/senior prom for Midwest championships and be in bed by 9:30 on every Friday night for Saturday morning practice. That was upsetting to me at first, but then I realized why I was doing it. I was doing it to be a part of something, a part of something I truly loved. Similarly, Helen finds that her large commitment to gymnastics is driven by her passion for the sport. “Working hard all year means bigger, more meaningful/rewarding moments that doesn’t always happen with school sports,” said Helen. Now, as I finish my freshman year and Helen her sophomore year, balancing sports and school has become much easier. In a way, I’m glad rowing isn’t a sport filled with only Latin students. It provides me with a change of pace, a place to go to six days a week and people to see. It allows me to truly appreciate those I’ve met at Latin and at crew. Hu said, “[playing a sport outside of Latin] also has its benefits. It’s another part of my life that I can separate from my school life, sometimes it’s nice to have both school friends and outside of school friends.” The degree of separation between school and rowing is one that both Helen and I are now grateful for. So before you rule out being a dancer, a fencer, a gymnast, or a rower, know that playing a sport outside of Latin does not mean you have to sacrifice your school spirit and ability to bond with others; it simply gives you a unique identity.]]>